Notes face-down: bipedalism and scanning the savannah

(Contrary to the suggestion proposed by my daughter, Wendy, I will not be making the accompanying photograph in this post my latest profile picture.)

Bipedalism came first, then the large brain among the history of primates.  The upright stance allowed man to scan the savannah, edges of forest and plains, or wherever he had wandered for food and predators.

I haven’t posted since December 27, 2011, mainly because I have had eye problems (really, only the left eye) since December 25th, Christmas morning, and a “Ho, ho, ho,” Christmas gift I desire to return, but can’t!  I woke up that morning with blurred vision caused by a macular hole in my left eye.  This last Tuesday, January 10th, I received a vitrectomy at Arlington Day Surgery Center, under the skilled hands of Dr. David Callanan (Dr. Wu administered the pharmacological agents — much appreciated).

I may still be bipedal, but I have assumed the position of a face-down recovery period lasting five days or more so that I neither can scan the savannah nor see the quacking ducks on my pond.  I cannot have any hard spirits during my ten-day recovery, but that is not as painful as it may seem to some.  I have this nature blog and like to go out into the field, but the only nature I see are house plants, two dogs and trees outside my living room window.  I take a new interest in bugs that infrequently cross the floor.

I took a picture with my iPhone immediately after surgery and this is what I look like.  I spend most of my days face-down in a specially-designed “chair” and a bedside rest for my face that is like those contraptions in massage parlors for your head as you get your massage.  Dr. Callanan predicts a 90-95% recovery of vision in my left eye with another operation for cataracts in about a year (cataracts — Nile River, Egypt). 

So, I will not be hiking the grove or taking photos of juniper any time soon.  Medical technology and habitat adaptations, however, have come a long way since primates first scanned the savannah.  I’m in a safe wikiup, been worked on by medicine men and women, have taken drugs and have nature outside my window.  My hearing and tactile senses are sharpened.  I listen for the Sandhill Crane that may fly overhead.  I brush my canine that barks at strange sounds at the edges of camp.  Although I question that human society has progressed, today with the skills brought to bear in my life I think in some areas we have progressed.

(Note:  please do not show this photo to your children as it may cause nightmares or sleep unrest.  Oh, go ahead, give the little primates a scare and make up a good narrative while you are at it.)


Filed under Christmas, Sandhill Crane

44 responses to “Notes face-down: bipedalism and scanning the savannah

  1. Cowboy

    Howdy Jack –

    Wishing the best possible recovery! Take care…….

  2. I’m so relieved you got quick diagnosis and treatment, and such a good prognosis. Society may have its problems, but skilled surgeons and modern techniques are to be celebrated.

    Glad to see you still have your sense of humor – and I did laugh at the thought of you watching the ants (or whatever) marching two-by-two through your line of sight!

    • Shoreacres: yes, a quick diagnosis and into the operating room swiftly. I do celebrate modern techniques especially. I hope your winter is staying mild down there. Thank you for your comment and I shall watch the bugs, ants very closely and give a field report. Peterson probably has a field book on bugs. Maybe not.

  3. Warm wishes for a speedy recovery and remember what Mark Twain said “Be careful when reading health books; you may die of a misprint”

  4. Thank Goodness for those area in which there has been beneficial progress! I hope you recover speedily and completely!

  5. William G.

    May your recovery be speedy and complete!

    Your post raises tangential questions: as a nature observer and commentator, you need all five of your senses. Just how disadvantaged would we all be should we lose one or more those? How would our body compensate? Would we discover mysteries that our working senses theretofore had hidden from us?

    Rest up and be of good cheer.

    • William: Thank you for your comment. What has happened with my head down is that I focus on my touch and smell more than ever. I have found my dog Yeller’s hair thicker than I ever knew before.

  6. And from Austin, too, best wishes for a speedy and effective recovery, Jack. And think of the benefit: one eye less that will get watery and itchy from cedar fever.

  7. Evangeline

    Jack I am glad to hear the fisty part of you come out on your blog. I think your photo could of used your cowboy hat. You still have your keen hearing and great mind to give us updates. Prayers and love for a quick recovery

  8. Donnie Reno

    Listen to the DR and get well soon. The things outside will wait, they have been there for a lot longer than us.

  9. Jack: that sounds like a close call! Great news that you have such a competent medical team to put you back together again. There are some great audio books these days…maybe this is a good time to “read”, while you’re recuperating? All best wishes for a continued successful recovery!

    • Martie, I had not even thought about hearing books! Thanks. I wish I was in Taos this time of the year looking at those beautiful mountains. I took out a subscription to the Taos News a few months ago and have enjoyed every weekly issue. Hope all is well with you and your family.

  10. Buenos Días Jack!

    What an amazing thing to go through, and to especially know you have such a good chance of recovering without much damage to your eye. I am so glad you survived the surgery and they did not accidentally remove your sense of humor! A person’s humor is always appreciated.

    I relate to your medical problem as I am to visit with a “hot shot” Ophthalmologist on Monday to see if I have Macular Degeneration. I say “hot shot” because he is young and because he is this particular clinic’s “go getter”. He does an unreal number of cataract surgeries several days a week (mornings only), plus keeps up with his regular Ophthalmologist’s duties. Further, he travels to another town where he holds satellite office hours on Thursdays.

    The last I heard about macular degeneration – when Mama had it many years ago – there was nothing that could be done for it. Even though this is not something I would wish on my worst enemy, I am thrilled you posted this article because now, if they do come up with a determination of macular degeneration for me, there IS something I know can be done about it.

    It would be interesting to note who and what there is beneath you and how they are surviving.

    It is my prayer that you get 100% well soon.

    Please keep us updated with your wit and on your progress.

    Give Yeller, with that exceptional thick coat of hair, an extra pat or two for us all.

    Iona Brown-Cline

    • Iona: thank you for your comments! I will give Yeller an extra pat just for you. It’s good to have young doctors and experienced lawyers. I wish you the best on your diagnosis. Much has been advanced in medical science to be sure. Your young doctor seems so very well versed and qualified! You will be in good hands. I must get a Paterson’s guide for the bugs and find out what is going on.

      • Hello Jack!
        Kept the appointed hour with my Ophthalmologist Monday afternoon. The news was not good. I have Macular Degeneration in my right eye with some small indications the left eye may be going that way too.
        He told me that if someone said he required this surgery, he would refuse because the rates of recovery were not very hopeful. I like the odds you got. Perhaps I will come to see your doctor! :^)
        Our nearest larger town of Jonesboro does not have anyone who does this kind of surgery (we are in N.E. Arkansas in the Ozark hills). If I do go ahead with this surgery, I will need to travel to Memphis.
        Since the surgery does not always have the needed outcome, my doctor and his associates prefer to try to heal the eye without the surgery. Therefore, I am required to take a “one-drop-a-day-Rx” in the effected eye and come back in two months.
        There is another thing to be considered when it comes to my health. I take Coumadin – a blood thinner. This requires an extended hospital stay. There are a few doctors who refuse to do surgery when it comes to the risks I present to them.
        Since Arkansas is not exactly on the cutting edge when it comes to medical things, I really think I need a second opinion.
        I base this “cutting edge” comment on what happened some years ago. I then lived in Washington State. Had cataract surgery on one eye and was scheduled to have the other done 6 weeks later. Instead, I got married on that date and canceled the appointment.
        Then I moved down here to Arkansas. Went to see an Ophthalmologist to have the other cataract removed. I was told: It isn’t ready yet. Give it another year. Actually, it was four years before the surgery was done. Washington State doesn’t have the old-fashioned attitude of “wait-for-it-to-ripen”. The cataract was ready for surgery when it was found.
        So in the meanwhile, I will scour the web and see what I come up with. And amuse myself reading your blog. Hope to have some of those bugs cataloged and their habits outlined for us to read. :^)
        Pray your recovery is on track and you are becoming accustomed to that new way of sitting and sleeping. How does a person sitting on that contraption cover themselves for sleep? I like to have my covers up under my chin. Sometimes even over my face because the lack of a thyroid leaves me cold all the time.
        Keep us informed. Thanks!

  11. Hi Jack, I believe that was Evangeline (first name )who posted earlier, but I, too,hope for a quick recovery and music is always so beneficial.

    • Teresa! Thank you for drawing my attention to that. I have my head down in one of those medical chairs and I can’t see well, and the drugs are still making me goofy. Your blog is always so special on music. One of the few blogs I know that bring music closely into their pages.

  12. Jack, If I tell you what I thought bipedalism were before I read your post and then discovered what it was, I would make you grin, but I see you’ve still got lots of humour. I really wish you a good recovery. What a big bandage. You look like Santa Claus! But you need a red cap!
    Back to the ants with you! `)

    • Oh, yes, back to the ants, Grethe. I do look a bit overweight — I am not. The photograph was taken from the floor looking up. I am leaning over and that puffs up my face and distorts my features.

  13. Hej Jack, I stopped my comment a little too early.
    I’ll wish you a good Sunday and hope that your eye will recover very fast. I hope you have a good patience, Once I had to walk with crutches after an operation my doc said to me.”This demands three things from you now”. I thought what three things? He said: “Patience, patience, patience”.
    Best Wishes
    Grethe ´)

    PS: How did Teresa put that smiling face on?

    • Oh, yes, patience. I can get up from the chair at 1:00 p.m. today and look forward, not down. Been looking face-down since Tuesday. The smiling face of Teresa’s? I don’t know, but it probably is a software code she has. My editor does not have that capability, but if I could integrate it, I would. Thank you for your sentiments, Grethe.

    • I just discovered that if you put in a colon (:) and then parenthesis like we do for smiley faces, this WordPress software automatically makes an emoticon. 🙂

  14. Gosh, Jack! Now you’re the one who’s teasing me! I know from your other photos that you’re not fat!!
    I like Santa Claus! He’s cosy! ´)

  15. Jack, I sure hope your eye is on the mend very quickly. I’m interested in these bugs you are observing. =) Looking forward to more soon. Words, that is. Not necessarily bugs unless you post pictures of them.

  16. Wondering why we hadn’t heard from you for a while. Take care, you’ll be looking handsome as ever very soon.

  17. Even prone you tell a great tale, Jack. Always curious how life hands us challenges of a certain sort that slow us down or lay us low for a while and give us a chance to practice “seeing” in new ways. Wishing you a gentle and full recovery.

    • Wrensong: Thank you for your thoughtful words. I hammered this post out while being prone hanging my head on a cushion. Funny thing — I forgot all about my problem while writing.

  18. You are tough Jack, this will be no problem for you. But, please, take your time and recover fully before you hit the trail. Good luck friend, and best wishes.

  19. Thank you for this report on your whereabouts and wherewithall. Am finally with enough time to pay a visit over here. Oh my, something big happened to you all-of-a-sudden.This happened to my aunt years ago – the all-of-a-sudden-ness of the loss of sight due to macular degeneration (?) – it happened to her over the holidays as well! Staying-put for getting-well, a prerequisite for life at some junctures, eh? Your smile in your foto is contagious, Jack – a good one!! May your mending be strong!

  20. Rubia

    Wendy has a wonderful idea! You should totally change your profile picture Jack 😉

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